Opal Ridge Hunting Another Win

Luke Pepper is confident Opal Ridge can bounce back in Saturday’s The Hunter at Newcastle.

OPAL RIDGE. Picture: Katrina Partridge/Sportpix

Things haven't gone exactly to plan for Luke Pepper's stable star Opal Ridge this campaign, but the Scone based trainer believes a short freshen up and a substantial drop in weight will help Opal Ridge find her best form.

Sent out a $2.80 favourite in The Kosciuszko first up despite having a well-documented bruised heel prior to the race, Opal Ridge, who raced in concussion plates, ran second to Front Page but could only manage ninth last start in The Invitation.

"She probably raced a bit flat, she had a big lead up into the Kosciuszko and she probably just wasn't at her best. She wasn't terrible, facing some of the best mares in Australia," Pepper said.

"She had a bit of a bruised heel which wasn't that bad to tell you the truth, obviously being a Kosciuszko it was well publicised, we put concussion plates on her which she still wears today… that wasn't an issue on the day, she still raced extremely well."

Pepper believes racing 14 days after her Kosciuszko run contributed to her last start run, as well as racing tight on the inside of horses, but says she appears to be spot on for Saturday's The Hunter (1300m) at Newcastle.

"She never looked her normal self during the run so that's why she's on the back of a freshen up now into The Hunter, it looked an ideal target for her. She had a week out on the water walker, and we've got her back in and I couldn't be happier with her, she seems a lot brighter and ready to go," Pepper said.

Opal Ridge carried 59kg last start, equal to The Invitation winner Espiona under the conditions of the race, but will drop to 53kg at Newcastle with Dylan Gibbons to retain the ride.

"She's always been better when she's back and off a good tempo and on a big track and it really should suit her there over the 1300 at Newcastle," Pepper said.

"I thought it looked a great target for her, it's basically our home sort of city track, not too far down the road, if she produces her best she's going to be right in the finish."